The Index – based on work produced by Dr Diane Levine and her team at the University of Leicester and developed by research agency Revealing Reality – provides a benchmark which can now be tracked year on year, and compared across different groups of children in the UK.
Internet Matters has used the Index to develop a Digital Family Toolkit so parents can access personalised and relevant resources by answering some simple questions about their family, and urges parents to understand the important role they play in starting and continuing regular conversations with their children all the way through their childhood.
CEO of Internet Matters, Carolyn Bunting MBE, said: “We’re proud to launch the first index of its kind that we hope will be able to shape how we help children navigate their digital world amid the rapid pace of change in technology and any hurdles along the way.
“The pandemic has had a big effect on children’s experiences and it is good to know that children whose parents who are on the same page as their kids around digital concerns are the ones who are benefitting the most from the online world.
“These insights offer wide benefits not just in how we can better support families, but also have implications for policy, practice and digital product development as we move towards an Online Safety Bill and Media Literacy Strategy.”
Dr Linda Papadopoulos, Child psychologist and Internet Matters ambassador, said: “We can’t be too quick to judge parents who spend time at home on their phones or devices, especially through the pandemic while they’re using technology to work and socialise more at home.
“However the index does show the impact our own behaviour has on our children and something that is easily fixed by communicating with your child and leading by example.
“It also shows that children’s online safety isn’t just about having a conversation and letting them get on with it. Older children are reporting more negative experiences than younger children, so parents must keep the dialogue going into the teenage years.”
To get personalised advice on how to support your child, go to Internet Matters’ Digital Family Toolkit and answer the questions from the index.